In the ever growing saga of marijuana history, 2016 will be a banner year for the business of cannabis or the “cannabiz.” Voters across the country voiced their support for both medicinal and recreational marijuana legalization on Election Day. The entire year saw a steady rise in investment activity, fueled by courtroom victories and recreational legalization in Canada. Cannabis will continue to be a controversial conversation headline, both in the U.S. and globally.
Here are 10 of the biggest cannabis news stories of 2016:
1. Four States Voted for Legalization of Recreational Marijuana – California, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada. Three states, Florida, Arkansas and North Dakota, voted for leglization of medical marijuana programs. Additionally, Montana voters reinstated their medical marijuana program.
In the US, about 20% of residents live where adult-use cannabis is legal and 60% reside where medical marijuana is legal.
2. Canada Is The First G7 Nation to legalize Recreational Marijuana. Canada continued closer to fulfilling Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s promise to legalize recreational marijuana in 2017.
3. Marijuana Referendums Were Elected, but…so was Donald Trump. Cannabis industry professionals’ celebrations on Election Day were watered down by Donald Trump’s surprise victory.
President Trump has claimed he supports medical marijuana and that he feels legalization is up to each states. But he has also been openly critical of the recreational marijuana industry. Trump’s nomination of known an anti-marijuana crusader, Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, gave the MJ industry pause. Will he restart raids against marijuana businesses? Will he put an end to President Obama’s Justice Department memos giving state-legal MJ programs permission to operate without Federal interference? We shall see…
4. Alaska Becomes Fourth U.S. State with a legal adult-use Marijuana Market. The state issued 60 cannabis business licenses, 29 businesses were operational and supply already can not keep up with demand. The industry expects to garner $25 to $50 million in sales in the first year, according to the Marijuana Business Factbook 2016.
5. California Sees Big courtroom Wins in the Cannabis Industry, including cases involving the federal government’s asset forfeiture tactics. These victories set precedents for the rest of the industry.
6. Proactive state legislatures in Pennsylvania and Ohio passed medical marijuana laws. These are the sixth and seventh most populated states, which is promising. Yet, neither program will allow cannabis flower, as they feel they must expand cannabis legalization slowly. Michigan and Louisiana also passed laws regulating its MMJ industry. We can only assume other states will follow suit.
7. New York-based private equity firm, Tuatara, raises $93 million in cannabis investment. This says wealthy investors are taking cannabis businesses seriously. On the other hand, the banking industry remains wary of the marijuana business.
8. Microsoft, Google and Other Mainstream Companies Enter the Cannabis Industry. Microsoft publicly partnered with the cannabis firm, Kind Financial. Google is rumored to be exploring how it could help the industry. Big Kahuna fish companies such as these will help reduce the marijuana stigma in corporate America. Let us hope that these large companies result in putting too many smaller entrepreneurs out of business.
9. Washington State Merged Their Medical Marijuana Program With Their Recreational Marijuana One. As a result, the state’s MMJ industry is losing money fast. Less patients signed up to purchase medical marijuana cards because an MMJ card did not save them money.
10. The DEA not rescheduling Marijuana from a Schedule 1 Narcotic. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration decided not to remove marijuana from its list of most dangerous drugs. So, marijuana remains a Schedule 1 narcotic. The DEA will allow more entities to grow cannabis for further research. Up until now, only the University of Mississippi had federal authorization to grow marijuana for research.
Lynn Julian Crisci wears more hats than a Hydra has heads! (http://linkedin.com/in/lynnjulian) In film, she’s an actress in dozens of movies (http://BostonActress.org). In music, she’s a Pop Superhero on 30+ CDs Internationally. In tech, she’s a website SEO Superhero and a Press Release and Article Marketing Maven. In health, she’s an “Advocate, Ambassador, Speaker, Consultant” for Leaftopia, the US Pain Foundation and the Massachusetts Resiliency Center. (http://USPain.org)